October 17, 2013 — Rolling On The (Hudson) River—What’s shooting on location in NYC this fall?


annie on-location


In New York City, you occasionally leave your apartment only to find yourself smack in the middle of a major motion picture set. Today, I found at least five streets blocked off in the West Village for a film, according to the permit, titled MOONQUAKE LAKE. That’s a lot of downtown streets, a lot of vehicles and equipment, a lot of $$$… And to be honest, I don’t think Hollywood producers would invest that many millions in a film with such a ridiculous title. So I became suspicious. And being the resourceful little New Yorker that I am, I came to find that these permits are making use of an alias. That’s right, if you see permits for this Moonquake nonsense, what you are actually looking at is the set of the blockbuster remake of ANNIE, starring Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks and Quevanzhane Wallis (the 10 year old Oscar Nominee from BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD) in the title role. No little red-headed Annie this time around and I think that’s a breath of fresh New York air.

While I’m skeptical about movie remakes in general, I’m upbeat about Quevenzhane as the famous orphan. First of all, it’s fun to watch celebrity presenters trip up over her name at award shows. Second, my old pal Lucy Alibar is the co-writer—and Oscar Nominee in her own right—of the BOTSW film. Lucy and I met in the company of an Off Broadway workshop at Classic Stage Company years ago. The show was called A SONG OF SOLOMON, a movement oriented piece, born at Williamstown Theatre Festival.

PS—I know ANNIE was filming in the EAST Village last week—I’m assuming the exterior of the orphanage is somewhere in the LES (Lower East Side). What are they shooting in the West Village? I didn’t have time to go snooping—had to pick up a great Tennessee group, St. Agnes Academy, at the airport. I picture Daddy Warbucks as a strictly uptown-money type of character, but maybe he’s a bit trendier in this version and living in my less stuffy, more bohemian neighborhood. Nice.

It’s also October, which means it’s that time of year when holiday spots (commercials) are in production—after all, they need to start airing next month. Traditionally, Radio Shack, Best But, Macy’s and the wireless carriers will all shoot holiday commercials in New York. We’ll see what happens this year. I can’t blog about the spots I’ve been working on—those darn confidentiality contracts again. BUT, I can certainly tell you I’ve been getting real festive—hats, gloves, scarves, walking down a snowy street—oh yeah, streets have been “snowed down” in Brooklyn recently. I love the artificial snow—real Hollywood magic stuff! Huge blocks of ice are fed into what works like a wood chipper and then entire streets are hosed down with the flakes, like so:


snow scene


Anyway, in your travels around Manhattan this fall, you may come across a film set. So, how do you know what they’re shooting? Well, usually the real name of the film or TV project will be listed on the permit. Not sure why they’re being so secretive about Annie—I mean, Jamie Foxx is certainly a star but it’s not a Lindsay Lohan film, for goodness sake!

PPS—Usually, when productions are being cryptic, they don’t print a project title on the street permit in favor of the name and contact number of the locations manager. Anyway, I’m here for you nosy folks, so here’s a cheat sheet of the highlights of what’s filming in NYC this fall. Want to know who’s in these projects? Just use the number one industry resource:




IMBD, which stands for Internet Movie Database, even has an app for your smartphone. Any past or current movie is searchable and will list full cast & crew as well as other fun facts about the production as information becomes available. And for you theatre fans, www.ibdb.com, Internet Broadway Database, is pretty much the Broadway/Off Broadway equivalent.


Here’s what I know…


ANNIE                                      9/24–12/24

POWER (TV)                           11/12 through March

SHELTER                                 9/18–10/15

THE HUMBLING                       9/30–1/10

SPIKE LEE UNTITLED              9/23–10/13

LAUGH KILLER LAUGH            10/1–10/31

THIRSTY                                    9/28–10/23

REFUGIO                                  10/1–11/23

GETTING EVEN                         9/29–10/30

JACK STRONG                         11/3 through December